Monday, April 18, 2011
Tennessee Breaking Law With Lethal Injection
It comes as little surprise that our government - from the local, state and federal levels - simply make mistakes. Errors occur in matters of bookkeeping, record-keeping, finance, and even typos are in evidence in legislation which pass through the many hurdles of sub-committees and committees.
One area which needs to be as mistake-free as humanly possible is the execution of prisoners - the death penalty. Wrongful execution - the deaths of those found to be innocent - has been rigorously studied nationwide. Execution of those innocently charged is not a minor glitch. It's a real horror story.
And now Tennessee, along with many other states - are under court orders to halt lethal injections since the drugs used have been illegally obtained. The Tennessean newspaper reports these drugs have been illegally obtained via an unregulated overseas supplier:
"A federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C., accuses multiple states, Tennessee included, of possibly violating drug import laws by purchasing thiopental from a British company called Dream Pharma, run out of the back of a London driving school. Nebraska and South Dakota, obtained 500 milligrams each from an Indian company called Kayem Pharmaceutical."
Seems this state (and others) are breaking the law in their plans to execute criminals.
The medicine under review is in short supply:
"[due to] a nationwide shortage of that key drug used in lethal injections has largely ground to a halt executions across the nation. Like other states, Tennessee has had to turn over its stock of sodium thiopental to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration because of allegations it may have been illegally obtained from an unregulated overseas supplier."
Another chemical, Pentobarbital, has become a recent substitute, even though the drug's Danish manufacturer, has issued to following statement regarding use of the drug for lethal injection:
"Lundbeck's position regarding the misuse of pentobarbital in execution of prisoners
Lundbeck is dedicated to saving people’s lives. Use of our products to end lives contradicts everything we’re in business to do, which is to provide therapies that improve people’s lives. Lundbeck is opposed to the use of its product for the purpose of capital punishment.
Lundbeck markets pentobarbital solely for its approved use, among other things to treat serious conditions such as a severe and life threatening emergency epilepsy that results in 42,000 deaths a year in the US if not treated effectively. It is evident that use of this product to carry out the death penalty in US prisons falls outside its intended use.
We have engaged in a constructive dialogue with human rights advocates to discuss and evaluate ideas to prevent the incorrect use of our product for lethal injections. We have carried out a thorough assessment of ways to control distribution for use in capital punishment.
Lundbeck does not control the application of pentobarbital. And based on our evaluation and the advice of external experts, we have concluded that there are no viable steps Lundbeck can take to prevent end-users from obtaining the product for unapproved use, short of withdrawing the product from the market. However, taking pentobarbital off the market would be a tragedy for the patients who benefit from legitimate uses of this important therapy.
Medical experts and human rights advocates alike agree that discontinuation of the supply of pentobarbital could have a significant negative effect on patient care.
We will continue to urge states in the US to refrain from using pentobarbital for the execution of prisoners as it contradicts everything we stand for as a company."